Dunkin’ Donuts Plans a Wave of Expansion in Southern California

With 98 percent brand recognition, most everyone has heard of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins, the two brands owned by Dunkin’ Brands. But not everyone on the West Coast has gotten a chance to enjoy Dunkin’ Donuts, especially folks in California. Soon that will change.

“In January we announced we are opening Southern California for franchise sales. Dunkin’ Donuts opening there has been long awaited, and we expect the first freestanding stores will be open as early as 2015. Nontraditional locations may open sooner,” says Grant Benson, vice president of development at Dunkin’ Brands. “We are looking for about 15 groups that would commit to 10 to 15 locations each,” he says.

Why hasn’t Dunkin’ Donuts gotten into the South California market sooner? “We have remained true to our development strategy,” says Benson. “We were slowly making a contiguous westward migration, and this is not an opportunity we just wanted to wade into, as we want to make sure we have the infrastructure to support operations in place to set our franchisees up for success.”

Dunkin’ Donuts seeks franchisees with restaurant experience, but that is not the only criterion. “We want people who have the ability to both develop and operate the business, have local real estate knowledge, can build a marketing plan, and then operate with excellence,” says Benson. “Our franchisees must have a passion for satisfying the customer. And while an entrepreneurial spirit is beneficial, it’s more important to find franchisees who are willing to follow the guidelines of our proven system, a system we’ve honed for more than 60 years.”

“We want to make sure we have the infrastructure to support operations in place to set our franchisees up for success.”

Dunkin’ Donuts follows a franchise-focused model. “We are committed to working with our dedicated partners, not competing with them for employees, real estate and marketing. We support the franchisees with business guidance, site selection and training,” says Benson. Training with Dunkin’ Brands includes classroom work at the corporate Dunkin’ Brands University, in-store, hands-on training and opportunities for new franchisees to learn in a certified training facility. Once up and running, Dunkin’ uses online learning modules as well.

“All this training pays off in terms of new-unit performance,” says Benson. “We continue to see significant progress and high numbers of new units meeting not just the break-even points, but also meeting cash-on-cash returns for new business in both existing markets and new markets. That is a testament both to the franchisees we bring in, as well as to our system.”

Over the past few years, financial challenges have eased, but they’ve been replaced with challenges on the legislative front. Benson says, “When we look at what is out there, we see legislation that doesn’t favor small business, and that could have a chilling effect. We are making sure we are doing everything within our power to have our voice heard on behalf of our franchisees.”

That challenge doesn’t change the company’s move forward in the least. Dunkin’ Donuts does more every day with social media. “The marketing department has done a wonderful job of using Facebook, Twitter and mobile apps. We can let a guest pay with a smart phone; we send offers to the phone and send gift cards via text messages. We want to drive business and make things easier and faster for our stores, for the operators and for our guests,” says Benson.

“As we grow westward to Southern California and other new markets, we want people to understand the appreciation we have for our franchisees. They are our key partners as we learn, grow and innovate, and our success would not be possible without them.”

For more information about franchising opportunities with Dunkin’ Donuts, visit www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en.html